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### Fort Worth ISD Greenlights New Abstinence-Focused Sex Education Program

The “Choosing the Best” curriculum is set to be reintroduced into Fort Worth schools, marking the return of sex education following its suspension by the district last year. The Fort Worth Independent School District Board of Trustees recently greenlit this new abstinence-based sex education program.

After a year-long hiatus, a special advisory committee comprised of parents and district health officials meticulously evaluated various lesson plans before ultimately advocating for the implementation of the “Choosing the Best” curriculum. This decision sparked extensive debates among parents, students, and other stakeholders during a lengthy public hearing on Tuesday.

While some argue that an abstinence-centered approach may not be as effective, proponents of the curriculum stress the importance of promoting healthier choices and prioritizing individuals’ well-being. The curriculum places a strong emphasis on abstinence as the most reliable method to prevent pregnancy, despite also covering topics such as contraceptives, condoms, and birth control.

The primary objective of “Choosing the Best” is to educate teenagers on the benefits of delaying sexual activity, empowering them to make informed decisions that can lead to a reduction in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), thereby improving outcomes for both teens and their families.

Notably, the curriculum includes age-appropriate lessons for sixth-graders on various topics such as preventing sexual violence, recognizing potential victims, and exploring concepts like crushes, infatuations, and true love. High school students, on the other hand, will delve deeper into discussions on teen pregnancy consequences and the experiences of individuals living with sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

In alignment with Texas state requirements, the curriculum underscores the risks associated with sexual activity and underscores abstinence as the only foolproof method to avoid these risks entirely. It also adheres to the state’s mandate to analyze the effectiveness, risks, and failure rates of barrier protection and contraceptive methods.

Moreover, the curriculum’s approach is centered on abstinence but not exclusively focused on it, as clarified by the publisher. Parents must actively opt their children into these sex education courses, with only a small percentage opting out in the previous academic year.

While supporters commend the program for its age-appropriate and morality-based content, critics argue that it falls short in addressing crucial sex education concepts. The ongoing debate between proponents and detractors reflects a broader discussion on the role of sex education in schools and its alignment with community values and beliefs.

To enhance accessibility and inclusivity, some students have requested Spanish-language versions of the material, a request that the publisher has committed to fulfilling for Fort Worth ISD and other interested districts.

The district plans to utilize federal funding to procure the “Choosing the Best” curriculum at a cost of approximately $72,000, supplementing the existing health curriculum provided by HealthSmart. This decision follows the district’s discontinuation of HealthSmart’s sex education courses in 2023, which were noted for their comprehensive coverage of contraceptives and tailored lessons for LGBTQ students.

As the district navigates these educational initiatives, it remains committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students, as evidenced by its recent efforts to review library materials in compliance with state regulations aimed at safeguarding students from explicit content.